LEARN Awarded $15 Million Magnet School Federal Grant; Benefits schools in Groton, Norwich, New London, and East Hartford

LEARN Awarded $15 Million Magnet School Federal Grant; Benefits schools in Groton, Norwich, New London, and East Hartford
Educators from LEARN, Groton, Norwich, and Goodwin College in East Hartford join Congressman Joe Courtney in Celebration of Magnet School Grant.

Thousands of students are set for new learning opportunities as the result of $15 million federal grant to expand school choice programs throughout the region.

This week, the U.S. Department of Education announced that LEARN would receive a Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP) grant, which will benefit 3,000 students. On Friday, Congressman Joe Courtney (D-2nd District) joined LEARN at its headquarters in Old Lyme to celebrate the announcement, alongside educators from East Hartford, Groton, and Norwich.

Courtney congratulated LEARN and the districts involved. He called upon his own daughter’s experience at a magnet school, “a life-changing experience for her and her family,” as evidence of how magnet schools are making a difference for students.

“This is a competitive grant. This is not a formula grant. This doesn’t happen by itself,” Courtney said. “To get $15 million over the next five years really speaks volumes about the team here.”

The MSAP grant supports the establishment of four intradistrict magnet schools in Groton and Norwich. It also allows for significant curriculum revision at existing LEARN interdistrict magnet schools in New London and East Hartford. Funding will be distributed over a five-year period.

Unique among MSAP applications, the EXPECT (Equity, eXcellence, & Pride across Eastern ConnecticuT) project brings together a number of partners, including LEARN, the Norwich Public Schools, the Groton Public Schools, and Goodwin College.

Courtney recently pushed Congress to increase grant funding for MSAP, a measure which lost by a narrow vote. While disappointed, he was encouraged by the bipartisan support the measure received.

“It reminded me that we need to do more to tell our story. The way that we do that is by showing how LEARN is taking that investment and making it work for the students you serve,” Courtney said.

LEARN Executive Director Dr. Eileen Howley said “now the hard work begins,” as LEARN and the districts set to create pathways between regional elementary, middle, and high schools and provide students and families with high quality choices and opportunities.

 “Our goal is to Offer a quality educational experience that fosters inclusion, high expectations, and a deep commitment to ongoing lifelong learning for all,” Dr. Howley said.

EXPECT seeks to reduce socio-economic isolation in the communities and region and increase student achievement by creating new magnet schools or significantly re-envisioning current schools. The schools set to benefit are:

  • LEARN’s Regional Multicultural Magnet School (RMMS) in New London, a K-5 interdistrict magnet school, which will become an International Baccalaureate (IB) candidate school for the Primary Years Programme.
  • Groton’s Carl C. Cutler Middle School will be renamed Cutler Arts & Humanities Magnet Middle School and will be an intradistrict magnet middle school, serving Groton students and their families.
  • Groton’s West Side Middle School will be renamed the West Side STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) Middle Magnet School and will become an intradistrict magnet school serving Groton students.
  • Norwich’s 6th Grade Academy will be renamed the Teachers Memorial Global Studies Magnet Middle School and will be an intradistrict school, serving Norwich students.
  • Norwich’s Kelly Middle School will also become an intradistrict magnet school, serving Norwich families. Kelly’s curriculum will be STEAM-based (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics).
  • Connecticut River Academy (CTRA) in East Hartford, an interdistrict magnet high school, will add a manufacturing pathway for its students. LEARN and Goodwin College jointly operate the school, located on Goodwin’s River Campus.

Though he was unable to attend the celebration, Art Arpin, the Region 1 Director of Magnet Schools of America, congratulated LEARN on the grant and for years of service to the region.

“Their magnet schools have consistently demonstrated a commitment to high student achievement and provided a positive, diverse learning environment for students in all of their magnet schools,” Arpin said. “This grant will allow those schools to provide even more and better opportunities for their students.”

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